Business Card Substitutes
March 2, 2011 10:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm going somewhere this weekend where I might like to exchange business cards. Right now I have no business card. What is the most awesome wallet-sized informational..thing I can present someone with?

Notes which may be helpful:
  • I am a professional student right now (so by business card I more mean personal card).
  • I did have business cards, but much of the information is outdated. I do have an up-to-date resume.
  • The event is on the informal side, so no need to be too stuffy.
  • I probably won't be directly hunting for jobs (I'm looking for work in a different area of the country). So less desperation.
I'm quite good with design, but the budget is tight. What can I give people to remember me by? :)
posted by The Biggest Dreamer to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
You can always get print-at-home business cards. They look kind of cheesy but if you do something simple it will probably turn out alright.
posted by orangeseed at 10:47 PM on March 2, 2011

Front: Your name (and optional blurb).
Back: QR code with your contact info. People can scan it directly into their phones. You can also include any websites you have in the code.

The QR graphic will be eye-catching, but more importantly, it'll be fun for people to add you as a contact. Then when you follow up, you'll already be in their list.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you do use a QR, double check it before distributing the cards. Bad printers can render the codes illegible. It's also a good idea to have the same info in English for those who have not quite caught up with the whole QR thing, yet.

My number one pet peeve are the cards that are overly cutesy or don't say what you can do. It may seem like a gimmicky card that says "All jobs considered!" or "Renaissance man!"will make you stand out and impel me to visit your online resume, but that's not how it works.

If I'm trawling through my collection of business cards, it's usually because I've suddenly found I need an alternate workshop leader or flash developeror something at very short notice. Your business card needs to say that you can do those things in order for me to shuffle you out of the pile and offer you work.

This can take place long after the event itself, so don't let the fact you're not looking for work right this second put you off making effective cards now. People can hold onto those things for a long time.

Basically, express your originality through the presentation of the cards, but keep the content clear and direct.
posted by the latin mouse at 11:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Get pre cut (or perfed) cards from a business supply store or have nice card stock cut to size at a stationary store and hand draw/write cards. It will stand out and be awesome. Promise. It for Maximum awesome - cut a stencil and spray paint or use ink and a cloth and make them that way.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 11:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why not go to a store like staples and get the 24 hour business card printing service?
posted by saradarlin at 12:29 AM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: Why not go to a store like staples and get the 24 hour business card printing service?

I guess because I'm more interested in creative DIY types of solutions. Also because it would be difficult to get to such a store at an early enough time (class all day, being driven all evening to destination city, the staples here is too far to walk to, etc)

Wanna see more! :) I'm liking the handwritten one so far (though it never occurred to me that people could make those QR codes..)
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 1:08 AM on March 3, 2011

I got a bunch of 2x3 blank white cards that I now carry around that got this astonished exclamation from a journalist: "You make everyone wait until you write down you're information? You are so cocky!" That did it.
posted by parmanparman at 1:37 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

qr codes are easy enough to make yourself
posted by russm at 1:40 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

parmanparman - I don't know a single person whose on-the-spot handwriting is up to that for things like phone numbers or email addresses. "video editor & post production" I'll be able to make out, but is that a 6 or a 0 in the phone number?
posted by russm at 1:45 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I once printed some cards on some of that printable transparency film and then cut them out with a ruler/craft knife. A couple of people mentioned it to me about ten years afterwards (one still had the card), so it was definitely memorable. But whether I'd hand something like that out now would depend very much on the sort of people I expected to be meeting.

Instructables has many ideas for unusual business cards.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:19 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

You won't be able to get these by this weekend, but for next time consider moo business cards. My mom has them, and gets extremely positive reactions on a consistent basis. Really nice card stock too.
posted by semacd at 3:19 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the Moo mini cards - people keep them because they think they're awesome, so they never lose my email address.

I like the idea of drawing them yourself, too.
posted by SMPA at 4:13 AM on March 3, 2011

Grab blank index cards and cut them to business-card size. On one side: hand-write the basic information. Name/phone number/email/web. (Take your time, be legible.) On the other: a cartoon with a stick figure or caricature speaking a big empty speech balloon. When you hand it to the other person, you fill in the balloon with something just for her.

I personally dislike getting Moo minicards -- the ones that aren't business-card-sized -- because they're the wrong size and thus get lost, and I'm not particularly visually/graphically inclined so it's annoying that most of the card's surface is something I don't care about and your personal information is tiny.

I have my name, self-description (Tech Management, Comedy, and Whatnot), email, web address, and phone number on my card -- just text. It's in English on one side and Japanese on the other (a friend translated). Double-sided black-and-white printing is cheap at local printshops and they'll take a JPEG, PNG, or the like if you provide it. The strange but useful description and the second language are nicely memorable.
posted by brainwane at 5:03 AM on March 3, 2011

HowDoo cards.
posted by dobbs at 5:07 AM on March 3, 2011

What I did years ago on the cheap was to quick-design a rubber stamp, have it made at the rubber-stamp store for a couple of bucks, and then stamp my info all wonky on cheap butcher paper cut in odd shapes. It was certainly unpretentious and some said memorable.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 6:08 AM on March 3, 2011

russm - Time waits for no man, but people do wait.
posted by parmanparman at 7:51 AM on March 3, 2011

What printer access do you have? Many printers can accept a hand-fed 3x5 card, for the QR code, and if it's printed a bit larger, it may be more legible. Hand-drawn or rubber-stamped text can go on the other side. If you are in the arts, you could print labels with the QR code and text info, and put them on playing cards. If you are energetic, you could make collages , paintings or drawings on 1 side of a card, info on the other side.
posted by theora55 at 8:01 AM on March 3, 2011

You might consider rubber stamps. A lot of quick print shops can turn around rubber stamps quickly and pretty cheaply, and you can make a little do-it-yourself assembly line for hand printed cards.

A designer I knew would buy a small amount of very nice/interesting paper from whatever nice-paper-store was nearby, cut it into business card shapes, and then print small batches of business cards himself using 2-5 rubber stamps with the various components of the card. One for the name, one for the contact information block, one for a website or email address, one with some simple graphic element like a box or a circle or a line. That kind of thing. Sometimes each card would be completely different, sometimes, he'd follow a single format for a whole batch.

The paper brought an interesting texture or tactile element, and the stamps definitely imparted a unique and handmade quality to the cards. And if you change your phone number or email address or something, you don't have to toss out 499 leftover cards or hand-correct them, you can just update the relevant stamp and do another small batch before you head to another event.

It was always a conversation starter for him, and I've never seen anyone else do it.
posted by mullicious at 9:03 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

What would you be using the card for? Just an easy way to distribute your contact info to new acquaintances? Or for career/networking purposes?

A creative way to do it, if you're not concerned about APPEARING PROFESSIONAL in order to get a job, would be to buy either the perforated cardstock mentioned above, or a bunch of pre-cut blank business cards, and just hand write your info neatly on them. Ideally with an interesting pen/marker/writing tool, just to make it seem more creative. If you have awful handwriting, what about using a rubber stamp kit or one of those old Dymo label machines?

If you are using this for any professional use and your field is traditional/conservative, I wouldn't do this, though.
posted by Sara C. at 9:08 AM on March 3, 2011

Just to button the QR thing up, you don't have to worry about bad printers unless you're encoding a paragraph or something. The resolution of a QR code is tied to the amount of information encoded, so if all you're putting into is is your linkedin URL or something, you'd use a QR more like this than this.
posted by rhizome at 1:23 PM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice guys! I've got nothing against QR codes, but I'd like to make something a little more universally understandable. Since I'm pressed for time/money I'm going to hand-write my info (architecture training = awesomely neat lettering) on little pieces of colored cardstock. I also like this idea because I can make as many as I need (and not waste resources printing a lot of them). :)
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 8:06 AM on March 4, 2011

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